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Video: Pioneering Spirit Removes Two Offshore Platforms in One Week

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Pioneering Spirit lifts Brent Bravo's topsides (Allseas)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-06-18 19:05:40

The Pioneering Spirit, the world's largest vessel by displacement, has completed two North Sea topsides removals in quick succession - the Valhall QP accommodations platform on Friday and Shell's Brent Bravo platform on Tuesday morning. 

At 3,800 tonnes, Valhall QP was a light load for Pioneering Spirit, but it took two years of preparation to get ready for the lift. Last month, crews cut the platform free of its jacket and retrofitted custom restraints to keep it in place until the heavy lift ship arrived on scene. The actual lift took a matter of seconds, and once the load was clear, Pioneering Spirit got under way and delivered the topsides to a yard in western Norway for scrapping. 

On Tuesday, Pioneering Spirit made a short trip west to BP's aging Brent field in the UK North Sea, where she removed the Brent Bravo platform.

Brent Bravo is the second of four platforms that Pioneering Spirit has removed from the Brent oil field, the landmark 1970s-era project that is the namesake of the Brent oil price index. The four-hour lift evolution on Tuesday was the culmination of two years of planning, engineering and preparation, according to operator Allseas. (The actual "fast lift," the moment when the platform departed its jacket, took just nine seconds.)

Brent Bravo's 25,000-tonne topsides rested on a three-legged concrete jacket in 460 feet of water. Prior to the lift, crews made cuts between the topsides and the supporting legs, and they installed restraints to hold the topsides in place laterally before the lift. After Pioneering Spirit removed the topsides, the jacket legs were capped with concrete covers. A solar-powered aid to navigation has been installed atop the one of the legs to warn vessels of the structure's presence. 

As of Tuesday night, Pioneering Spirit was under way for Hartlepool, UK, where the Brent Bravo topsides will be transferred onto a barge and taken to the Able UK yard in Teesside for scrapping. 

Pioneering Spirit is the only ship capable of single-lift placement / removal of full-size platform topsides, and she is also the world's heaviest-capacity pipelay vessel. She has completed about 800 nm of pipeline and 130,000 tonnes of platform lifts in her three years in operation, according to Allseas.